105 Ways to Give a Book

Comment Challenge 2011: Check-In II

How’s it going? Head over and tell Lee. He’s sharing last week’s prize winner, and will pick a new winner from today’s Comment Challenge Check-In to receive a 2011 KidLit/YA book.

Here I’m going to respond to questions from my own comments:
Reading with an intent to comment... I’ll have to think about that. I intend to engage, to read more slowly and thoughtfully, but always to comment? Sometimes I can’t even find anything useful to say on my own blog, much less someone else’s.

What do you all think about responding to comments left on your blog? Do you always respond, sometimes, almost never?
There are two parts to my concept of reading with intent to comment. The first part is the mental commitment. I’ve already decided that I’m going to read actively, not passively, and that’s a big step right there. Now, I don’t decide that for every single post I read. In fact, I’ve become more discriminating about the posts I read. Everyone’s choices will be different here based on taste and interest, but as examples I don’t read In My Mailbox or Library Loot memes, or posts about upcoming books. I don’t read posts about fantasy/paranormal/sci-fi teen books, and since that genre has taken over Young Adult literature, I’m skimming a lot of YA blogs these days for books I would like. There are exceptions, always exceptions, but I’ve already narrowed my selection of posts I’ll be reading with an active participation.

Step two. When I read I turn a mental ear towards my own internal dialogue, noting my reactions and thoughts. When I get to the comments, I pretty much know what I want to say, but just have to take an extra two minutes to shape the words. Sometimes I have no real internal reaction or it’s just meh. Because yeah, there’s still a difference between “Hmm. That’s interesting,” and “Wow! That’s interesting!” Then I don’t comment, and I move on. The intent to comment doesn’t mean that I’ll comment on every single post I read, but that I’ve selected the post to read actively and that I’ll pay attention to my own thoughts with an idea to share them.

Now, what do I think about responding to comments on your own blog and what do I do? Well, I rarely respond to comments in my blog, and then generally, only if it’s a direct question or clarification. I feel that I’ve put my thoughts in the post, and it’s your turn to contribute if you choose. But more important to me is that I want that commenting energy to go outward to the community, not inward to keeping the conversation on my blog. I only have so much time, and suspect that if I were spending it coming up with things to say on every comment on this blog, I wouldn’t also be going out and commenting on other blogs. I get the argument that commenting on your own blog builds dialogue there, but it seems to me that the people who reply to every comment rarely comment other places. I may be wrong, and maybe somebody will tell me so, but that’s my impression.

Just like the original questioner, I put this to all of you for your thoughts as well. But I’ll tell you now that I reserve the right not to spend time defending my opinion in responding to the comments, because I know I feel differently about this than many.


tanita✿davis said...

To me, reading with the intent to comment feels like listening to a conversation and prethinking what you're going to say back. That means you're not really listening, in my book. I don't intend to comment. I comment if I'm interested, and if something bubbles up in me - otherwise I tend to lurk.

On the other hand, I do comment a LOT -- so there's a lot out there to interest me, I guess. I tend to skip memes and that type of thing as well - and I find that I skip most reading challenges and the like, because I simply don't have time anymore. I do seek out specific genres and multicultural stuff, and writing discussions now more often than I did. And I sometimes stop by and tell people when I disagree with them, which I never did before.

I'm learning that interaction is a multifaceted thing, and these comment challenges are always a good kick in the butt to remind me to range a bit further afield than my normal blogs.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Thanks for sharing your inner thought process, MotherReader! I too, certainly don't comment on every post I read. Nor on every comment I get on posts I write. But, depending on the back-and-forth nature of the discussion, there are days when I do try to comment on the comments on my blog. (But NO, I do not count those as comments towards my comment challenge goal of five a day!) Greg Pincus has a great line about how "you should be sleeping with your number one commenter" because that should be you, which I think is hysterical. And while I get his point, I see yours as well - that it's not something that works for everyone (or every post.) I guess it's a good reminder that we all get to find our own best paths forward, and that diversity is part of the joy of being part of this kidlit blogging community!
Hurray for the kidlitosphere!
And Hurray for you, MotherReader! I can *feel* that sense of community building around us all!

MotherReader said...

Tanita, I actually tried to describe my intent thoughts better, but it was getting wordy and more confusing. I very much understand the difference between listening and waiting to speak - and can see that with my blog reading too. It's less like that for me than noting the parts that - like you said - "bubble up" in me. Like reading a book and putting a post-it on a good part, so I remember what it was that made me interested. Then when I go to comment, I know my starting point and the words just come out more conversationally. I'm making the distinction because I think that people separate the two things in their minds. Read post. Comment. And then it seems like more of a chore, like a mini book report. I want it to feel like more of a conversation. There can be a waiting to speak rather than listening in conversations, but I also think that there are a variety of speech and visual cues that we register with our internal dialogue that shapes the next thing we say.

MotherReader said...

Lee, I know that Greg will having something to say about the commenting on your own blog. I think I'm ready for it. I was definitely simplifying, because there are posts where you will interact with your readers. But I've seen a lot of blogs where the author responds to every single comment, and I don't tend to see those people commenting at other blogs. As I said, maybe I'm wrong about that. But I do see a need for balance between playing at your own house, and having a blogging playdate elsewhere sometimes.

Greg Pincus said...

I was gonna come share my line, but Lee's mentioned it already. But to give it context... simply commenting to comment, whether on your own blog or another blog, is silly. If someone says "nice post!" you really don't have to say "thank you!" But for me, if someone is continuing the conversation that I started... well... I figure as "host" of it, I should keep going.

My experience is that continuing the dialogue leads to an environment where more people comment (on more posts, in fact). Most blogs I see with exceedingly vibrant comments also include a lot of hostly interaction. There are ALWAYS exceptions, though: posts with hundreds of comments on otherwise quiet blogs, or posts on huge blogs with almost no reaction being the biggest outliers.

In the end, of course, it's about time management, expectation, interest, and how your own community works.

Anonymous said...

to keep the conversation going ...

I can see both sides of the comment on thyself argument. Short of the "nice post" comment that Greg mentioned, I do like to thank people for taking the time to visit.

If the commenter is a fellow blogger, I can relate to how much time they dedicate to their blog (which is likely a hobby) and feel like it's a way to show them respect. With this comment challenge I am trying to do a better job visiting the other blogs and commenting there with my "thanks for stopping by" at their house instead of mine.

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Pen and Ink tends to comment on the comments. Lupe does most of them. I usually comment on our posts as myself. We are trying to build our readership and we feel that the back and forth helps.
On the other hand...Reading with the intent to comment thoughtfully is a real time sucker. I rarely finish the five comments in under an hour and a half.
There are only so many hours in a day and I need some of it for writing. I mean... that's why I'm doing all this. Right?
I had been starting my day by getting my comments out of the way first. Today I rewrote a picture book, called a publisher and jotted down some ideas for new PBs before starting the comment process. I feel better.

Amy L V said...

I try to comment back, but it's not always individual. Sometimes my comments are a general "thank you" and then specific thoughts toward specific commenters. I'm never sure exactly how much to comment back, but I like people to know that I'm grateful they stopped by and took the time to write.

I do try to comment on others' blogs as I am grateful for how much I've learned, but I do not comment on each blog post I read.


Gail Gauthier said...

I like to respond to comments at my blog because I have this fantasy about my blog becoming a salon, a place where people converse. On top of that, I usually blog about things that few people I know in real life are interested in. So if someone responds to the post, that's my chance to get involved in a discussion. And it's probably going to be my only chance.

Melissa said...

I like your idea of reading with intent. I'm finding that I don't have time (sometimes not enough even to find 5 blogs to comment on) anymore, so I'm skipping a lot. (I'm also wondering if I need to find a new batch of blogs to follow as I don't seem to have much to say on the ones that I am... I do try to find one new blog a day.) Anyway, I am trying to think about what I'm reading more than I used to. So there is that.

Shelly B said...

I will have to say that, since starting this challenge, I have begun reading with intent and picking and choosing which posts I read and/or comment on. I realize that there are too many blogs in my reader that I can't get to them all in a day. So, I skim, I know that's bad, but I do. When I see one that I want to read and/or comment on, then I click through the reader and really dive into it.

I don't usually reply to comments on my blog, but I can see the pro of keeping the dialogue going.

Madigan Mirza said...

I have a theory that people who comment more, are also the kind of people who talk more.
People who lurk, are probably shy in real.
A big part of being shy, is just not knowing how to formulate a response quickly.

It's funny, all the things you mention avoiding... memes, fantasy, paranormal, etc. etc. I read all of those things on the blogs. I really like that genre, and I feel like I have got to enjoy it's popularity right now, since I know it won't last. Soon, the public will grow weary of vampire/angel/werewolf/wizards and we'll be on to the next big thing.

I do try to reply to comments in my blog... to keep the conversation flowing, especially if someone's comment has sparked a new idea in my brain.

Anonymous said...

I'm still finding my way, but when I comment it usually is because something bubbles up and I want to add, cheer on, agree, whatever. What has so worked for me in this challenge is do just that, everyday, no matter what--and it's helping me overcome the shy.

Sondy said...

I like your philosophy, Pam, and it actually makes me feel less guilty for not always responding to comments on my own blog. Since you DID respond to the beginning comments, it feels like you're saying that you comment when you have something interesting to say.

Brimful Curiosities said...

I don't often respond to comments on my blog. I'm not sure how many people would actually go back to the blog post after commenting to read my response to their comment. If I feel the need to address their comment, I will do so by email or leave a comment directly on the commenter's blog (if they have one). If someone leaves a particularly interesting comment, I try to return the favor by leaving a comment on one of their posts, but it all depends on how busy my own life is at the time.

Charlotte said...

I have a lot of trouble commenting back to comments. Part of it is logistics--I'll see the comments come through at work, when I can't do anything in response, and by the time I get home, the moment (if there ever was one) has passed.

Also, for whatever reason, I rarely get comments that are Discussiony. Sometimes this makes me think I am not writing the Right Kind of posts....